So, we watched a DVRed "new" episode of Law and Order: Special Victim Unit last night just prior to settling in for the NC State-Duke basketball game. (The 14-year old girl, who was being repeatedly sexually abused by her father while her mother didn't stop it, planned the entire killing of her parents but was in the way of a bullet and ended up in the hospital where it was discovered she had herpes given to her by dear old Dad but her boyfriend loved her anyway as she was arrested for conspiring to kill her parents.)
Anyway, L&O:SVU ended right at 9:00 p.m. and I quickly switched to the basketball game only to see my beloved Wolfpack wearing black uniforms. At first I was appalled as I was last fall when the football team wore black uniforms trimmed in red, white and pink and as I was several years ago when the basketball team came out in all black attire. I made a snide comment; my wife Nancy said State should never wear a color other than red and white (official, if there is such a thing, school colors). She's big on talking about fashion during basketball games or any sporting event, for that matter. She thinks Phil Mickelson looks dumpy the way he dresses, but as long as he wins, who cares what he's wearing? Nancy does. (I'm not disparaging you, Nancy. I'm just saying...)
Then I realized I was wearing a charcoal gray sweatshirt with NC State and the Block "S" across the front. One of my favorite NC State items to wear. I think it makes a fashion statement. Looks good, feels good. As the game got underway, Nancy kept talking about how awful the black uniforms looked and I kept telling Nancy that fashion did not matter as long as the Wolfpack won. In other words, I realized what I was wearing. But, as far as the basketball team wearing black, it should be a no-no.
According to today's reporting in The News & Observer, last night was the first time since Feb. 6, 2000 that State wore black uniforms. The Wolfpack lost to Maryland, 78-73, that night and then lost seven straight games. Last night was Feb. 16 (close enough) and Duke won 78-73. This is where a Yogi Berra quote should be inserted. I hope a seven game losing streak is not ahead of us because if it is, if you include last night, the 7th loss would be in the first round of the ACC Tournament and that would be a terrible way to end this season which has been pretty good so far.
I was disappointed in losing after leading by 20 points at Duke. The effort was excellent for the first 29 minutes as we made Duke play like NC State wanted Duke to play, but the foul problems were disheartening to the players who backed off and became shooters not scorers. We let Duke back into the game. You could see misery and lack of understanding on the faces of our players. Dismayed is a good way to describe coach Mark Gottfried expression. Oh well, good effort for much of the game. To my fellow Wolfpackers: I see light at the end of this tunnel. Keep the faith; the Pack will be back. But, please discourage black uniforms. Let's stick with Red and White.
It continues to be about the money and not the fans
From where I sit, the Atlantic Coast Conference and ESPN have again taken a small hand tool to the Wolfpack. This time, it's the football program. NC State is scheduled to play Tennessee in one of two Chick-fil-A Kickoff games in the Georgia Dome Labor Day Weekend. State's game is Friday, Aug. 31 and will be shown on ESPNU. The next day, Clemson and Auburn play and that game will probably be shown on ESPN, the Mother Ship.
State Athletics Director Debbie Yow and football coach Tom O'Brien put a positive spin on the game and the day it's to be played. "NC State fans love Atlanta...We think there will be a lot of State red there to cheer on our team," said Yow. And TOB said: "We know that our loyal fans will make sure that there is more red than there is orange in the dome that night." Exact time for kickoff is not known, but, as Tom suggested, it's a good guess the Wolfpack will be playing Friday night, not the best time for fans or the program.
Since most State fans live close to Raleigh, going to Atlanta will mean either a Thursday arrival or a long drive on Friday, and it's is Labor Day Weekend when attendance at home games has not been its best. Saturday would have been better. I sent a text to a friend who tries to put a good spin on everything ACC, and he responded: "Great trip. Play the game on Friday and then head to the beach for Labor Day weekend. Perfect scheduling instead of ruining a good Labor Day weekend."
Maybe he doesn't realize where Atlanta is in relation to most beach spots for Wolfpackers. So I replied we would have more fans if played on Saturday. Then he got serious: "It's a great time to play for recruits since they will all be playing that night. So much for the ACC
Even though most high schools in this area and possibly across the country play football games on Thursday before Labor Day instead of Friday, he's got a point about Friday night high school football. The Chick-fil-A Kickoff wanted two games and invited the teams. ESPN controls the play days and the kickoff times. It is all for the money. It'll be good exposure for the Wolfpack, but why not consider the fans?
UP-DATE: February 18, 2012
Shortly after posting this Friday, two emails arrived at my in box and each shed a little more light on these subjects.
The first came from Athletics Director Debbie Yow who had read this post while at the NC State baseball opener at Doak Field against Marshall. Concerning the black uniforms, she wrote: "(The) players wanted a special uniform (for the Duke game). (They, the black uniforms are) not likely to become a fixture." And, as far as the game in Atlanta, she clarified by writing, "The contract with Tennessee I inherited gave the Peach Bowl (Chick-fil-A Kickoff) the choice for date 'between Thursday-Saturday' of Labor Day weekend. They chose Friday." I appreciate Debbie offering the explanation.
The second email came from a member of the ACC staff who wrote: "FYI, we didn't have anything to do with scheduling this game. But, let me see. You get a chance to spend a long weekend in a great city, watch the Pack play Tennessee (definitely not south Alabama), have a chance at a great start to the season, and you still don't like it? There was a time when Wolfpackers would jump for joy at any trip to Atlanta." He's right but we prefer that trip to include either a Saturday game or the Chick-fil-A Bowl game after Christmas! Maybe we will have a good crowd for the Aug. 31, Friday night game against Tennessee in Atlanta. I hope so.
I also received an email from someone enlightened me that most high school games around Labor day ARE played on Friday. Guess those kids will not be watching NC State that night.